Gov. Hobbs’ nomination for DCS director is out

On Thursday, Gov. Hobbs never explained why she abruptly removed her pick to run DCS.
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 9:57 PM MST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2023 at 6:14 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Gov. Katie Hobbs has another nomination to fill for a state agency director position after suffering another setback. Senate Republicans released a statement on Wednesday night saying Hobbs is asking for the resignation letter from Matthew Stewart. He was tapped to lead the Department of Child Safety. He was supposed to be the first Black director of the agency. He officially took over the job six weeks ago and was awaiting Senate confirmation but now that first won’t happen. “It was a decision that was made in the best interest of all parties involved,” Hobbs said on Thursday.

Back in December, when Hobbs announced the nomination, she highlighted how Stewart “consulted extensively both locally and nationally to guide important changes in child welfare.” On Thursday, she never explained why she abruptly removed her pick to run DCS, despite campaigning on open government and transparency. “He just wasn’t the right fit. You know, as the governor and a former social worker I take the direction of this agency very seriously,” Hobbs said.

In Wednesday’s statement, Senate Republicans said some troubling history came to light about Stewart. They said he was reprimanded for “insubordination and unauthorized absence” when he was a DCS training operations supervisor in 2020. He resigned from that position before he could be suspended. The GOP also said he made “questionable” moves on consulting contracts and fired non-appointed openly gay employees of DCS, which sparked the forced resignation from the DCS director position. Hobbs disputes those claims. “This departure has nothing to do with the Senate committee,” she said.

The move comes a week after the state Senate rejected Dr. Theresa Cullen, Hobbs’ nomination for director of the Department of Health Services. It followed a scathing hearing in the Senate Committee on Director Nominations, which is lead by Republican Sen. Jake Hoffman. “I don’t think fake elector Jake Hoffman is interested in good government at all. He’s interested in creating a stage for his political theater,” said Hobbs, taking a swipe at Hoffman’s role as a so-called “fake elector,” an election denier who falsely claimed that Donald Trump won the 2020 election. Hoffman has openly vowed to block Gov. Hobbs’ agenda.

Below is Hobbs’ statement her office released on Thursday morning before talking to the media.